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Film sound: Applying Peircean semiotics to create theory grounded in practice

Murray, Leo (2013) Film sound: Applying Peircean semiotics to create theory grounded in practice. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis examines the theoretical approaches to the use of sound in film. It argues that there is a gap between film sound theory and film sound practice and seeks instead to formulate sound theory which is based on sound practice which can therefore be applied to both the product and the process: the soundtracks themselves and the processes which create them.

This thesis argues that the analytical methodologies typically applied in other areas of film studies do not readily lend themselves to the analysis of sound, or sound/image combinations. A semiotic model developed by Charles Sanders Peirce is proposed as being adaptable to the purposes of sound critique supporting both the practice of sound and the analysis of the language of sound.

A tripartite research approach involving traditional textual analysis, interviews with a number of industry practitioners and self-reflection on my own industry practice was adopted in order to test the chosen model as a means of analysing the soundtrack, as a way of analysing industry practice, and as a measure of the usefulness and applicability of the model in informing and influencing practice through my own experience as a film sound practitioner.

This approach to the analysis of both the soundtrack itself and the creative processes involved in its production allows for sound to be discussed in relation to the functions it performs. As such the model can provide a comprehensive and powerful tool for the analysis, practice and teaching of film sound.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Supervisor: Phillips, Gail and Mhando, Martin
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